On Wednesday room 101 and 103 ventured out to Brook's Farm near Stouffville, Ontario. As we arrived we were greeted with our first snowfall of the season! Thank goodness we all pulled out our winter jackets that day.
On site students were presented with a presentation of the life cycle of a pumpkin. They were also taken on a mini train ride to the pumpkin patch so they could pick their own pumpkins. When this was done the students got to meet various farm animals such as a pig, geese, cows and goats. I think the biggest hit for them however was playing in the giant hay barrels, jumping on a giant inflatable mat, and taking turns on the zip line.
Last week, the students in room 101 learned how rock can be broken down to make soil. Students learned how different types of weathering helps break down rock such as biological weathering (plant roots), chemical weathering (acid rain) and physical weathering (waves and wind).
This week the students wanted to learn how organic matter in soil is broken down. To do this the students first learned a little song:
Sing to the tune of Frère Jacques:
Who are you?(x2)
What do you do?
Turn dead plants and animals
Like carbon and nitrogen
Students then studied a decomposer of their choice and made posters to explain what their decomposer did and why it was important to the soil.
To conclude this learning, students built a worm farm.
This week, the students wanted to uncover what soil would be best for their plants from The Black Oak Savannah. This led them to question how soil is made. Our classroom character Felicity the Fairy left us a recipe for soil. Together in a jar we combined rocks, organic matter, water and air. When we read the next instruction we were shocked! We found out that for these materials to turn into soil we would have to wait 1000 years! This led to one student questioning whether anyone other that our fairy friend was immortal so they could guard the contents of our jar.
The students inferred that for our ingredients to turn into soil, the rock and organic material would have to break down. Luckily, Felicity the fairy left us two science experiments to show us how rock can break down over time.
The first experiment instructed us to put a piece of chalk in vinegar. Chalk is a soft, white, porous, sedimentary carbonate rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite. The vinegar was meant to represent concentrated acid rain. When the chalk/rock was put into the acid rain it began to slowly break apart. Over time acid rain has a similar effect on rock.
The second experiment required us to put a piece of chalk in water in the freezer. We learned that when water goes into the small cracks of this porous rock and expands while it freezes it breaks the rock apart.
We continued our research and found that rock can be broken down by weathering.
After we learned how soil is made, the students in room 101 went on to explore the components of soil. We used a song to learn that soil is made up of sand, silt, humus, rock and clay. To make this lesson a little more fun, the students first had a chance to examine clay, sand, silt, humus and rock in different jars. They compared each component's texture and consistency.
Next, the students had the opportunity to make soil in a jar...using the following ingredients:
Marshmallows represented rocks.
Crushed graham crackers represented sand.
Chocolate pudding mixed with crushed graham cracker represented silt.
Chocolate pudding represented clay.
Crushed oreo cookies represented humus.
This was topped with a gummy leaf to represent organic material and a gummy worm to stand in as a decomposer!
Students then made a diagram of the components of soil and did procedural writing to explain how they made their soil cups.
This week, the students continued to learn about how to care for the plants they wanted to raise from the Black Oak Savannah. Through this inquiry process the students learned about the process of photosynthesis. They learned that a plant breathes in Carbon dioxide from its leaves. It uses this carbon dioxide combined with water and sunlight to perform a chemical reaction. Through this chemical reaction the plant produces sugar which it uses as energy and releases oxygen into the air from its leaves.
To witness first-hand how a plant breathes in carbon dioxide from the stoma in its leaves, the students examined leaves that had been submersed in water for a few hours and left in the sunlight. They examined bubbles on the underside of the leaves. They inferred that this was because this is where the leaf released oxygen. They made the connection that if we were to breathe out under water we would make bubbles too!
Last week, the students generated so many research questions on the plants they had chosen to research from The Black Oak Savannah in High Park. One of the main questions that arose in their research was how we could get seeds from the plant to bring into our classroom and how these seeds were made. To help the students with this research we had a guest speaker come to our class, called Buzby the Bee. Buzby presented the students with a little skit on pollination. He taught the students that flowering plants are pollinated when pollinators such as bees, bats, butterflies, moths and mosquitos drink nectar from flower. When they do this pollen sticks to their legs. Pollen is made in the male part of the flower called the anther. When it is carried to the female part of another flower (the stigma) the plant is fertilized and can produce fruit or seeds. The students then proceeded to write scripts, comics, stories and songs about pollination.
This week, our classroom character Dex presented us with a problem. Upon watering our classroom plants he discovered that they were plastic! This was very upsetting to him because he wanted something living to care for and raise in the class. To help Dex out, the students in room 101 decided to go to High Park to see if we could find a living thing suitable to raise in our class.
On our travels we stopped at the High Park Nature Centre. We were informed that there was an area of High Park called The Black Oak Savannah which is one of the most endangered ecosystems in North America. A savannah is a sea of tall grasses and wildflowers dotted with islands of open-grown trees. They told us that if we wanted, we could help care for living things in the Black Oak Savannah to help restore this natural area.
The teachers at the Nature Centre taught us that when the First Nations People inhabited High Park, the Savannah flourished. This is because the First Nations People (The Wendat, Hodinoshonine, and the Annishnabe), cleared different plots of land each year with low fires so they could plant their crops. These low fires stopped new growth of trees, but allowed wildflowers to regenerate because of their deep seated roots. When the pioneers came in the late 1700s, they put an end to the controlled burns. Slowly, trees began to take over the Savannah converting it into a forest. High Park Stewards have help bring back the Savannah by having annual controlled burns again and growing the original wildflowers, grasses, trees and shrubs that originally inhabited the Savannah.
Here the students explored the Black Oak Savannah. They each selected one plant that they would like to study and try to grow in our class from the Black Oak Savannah.
Students also had the opportunity to make seed balls which they threw into the Savannah. These seed balls were made by putting native seeds into clay. The clay would protect the seeds during the winter until they were ready to germinate in the spring.
This week in room 101 we have been learning new routines and fostering our classroom community.
Our theme this week was that we are all different and these differences enable us to learn from one another. We explored this theme by:
*Making book-marks that illustrate symbols of things we love and what we can teach to the class
*Making self-portraits that illustrate what we love and what unique characteristics we have to share with our class
*Writing poems about our differences
*Exploring our unique, innovative ideas in our Maker Space and Math and Science Lab and creating unique inventions
*Taking on classroom jobs so we can all be teachers/leaders and work together as an efficient unit (i.e., line leader, music monitors, end of day monitor, call-back (signal to attention) monitor, environmental monitor etc.)
*Exploring how we can be role-models in the school by brainstorming what a leader looks like during learning time, in the hallway, in the playground and if we see someone in trouble. Some students also had the opportunity to present this information to the Kindergarten class!
Books we read to support our learning:
*Rosie Revere Engineer
*The Girl Who Saw in Pictures
*How Full is Your Bucket
*Clark the Shark
*The Important Thing
Thank you all for filling out the "Tell Me About Your Child" forms so I have even more insight into your child's strengths and interests.
Stay tuned for another great week ahead of learning!